We talk a lot about the Friday when Jesus died on the cross. We call it “good” Friday, and indeed the outcome was so much more than just good. I guarantee, though, that His followers would not have called it that!
Let’s look for just a moment at Luke 5 where several of the twelve men closest to Jesus met Him for the first time (verses 1-11 & 27-28). It says they “left everything” and followed Him. They and others were with Him for three years of ministry. They had seen many miracles of healing, provision, and even the dead being raised. They believed Jesus Christ was the Messiah, the One who would come and establish His Kingdom and bring freedom from the oppression they lived under. They walked away from the lives they had known, certain that they had chosen the winning side.
Now three years later, it seemed all that had changed. The one they had given up everything for had been beaten, mocked, humiliated, spit on and crucified. He must have seemed anything but the victorious King they expected.
Usually, when I hear people talk about Good Friday, as soon as Jesus is in the tomb, they fast forward to Sunday, to the part of the story we all like to think about – the resurrection, the VICTORY! Let’s not fast forward though… Let’s spend a few minutes in the shoes of those who couldn’t just read the next chapter in their Bible.
These were the men who would write their stories for us to read and learn from for centuries to come. The scriptures they had available to them talked of a promised Savior whose Kingdom would not end (Is. 9:2-7) But those dream were gone, apparently, and they had nothing left… nothing aside from fear and probably guilt (Matt. 26:56-58). In the time when their master was taken away, the disciples took off, scattering in fear. Peter followed at a distance long enough to deny Jesus and then fled.
There is very little written about the Saturday after Jesus died because it was the Sabbath. Very little could be done on the Sabbath by anyone under the law. All that we’re told happened was a guard being put on the tomb (Matt. 27:62-66).
Next time we see the eleven apostles, they are sitting in a locked room, in fear for their lives because of their association with Jesus. I imagine them sitting there in disbelief – their minds and hearts a tumultuous mixture of sadness, anger, guilt, confusion and despair, wondering how they could have gotten it so wrong. Even when they were told the good news that Jesus had risen, they refused to believe it (John 20:19, Mark 16:7, 10-14).
What I find amazing about their disbelief in His resurrection is that He had told them a number of times recorded in the gospels that He would be killed and rise again on the third day. Their despair was so complete they had given up on His words to them. They had expectations for how the prophecies and promises about the Messiah would look, and this loss did not fit into their plans. When their expectations weren’t met, they gave up on His words altogether.
They had seen Jesus bring life in place of death several times before, but surely the One doing the miracle had to have life in Him in order to speak it into something else, right? They were forgetting His words to Martha when He raised her brother, Lazarus, back to life (John 11:25-26). He didn’t just HAVE resurrection and life to give others. He IS those things! He said in John 10:10 that He came that we might have life, and have it abundantly.
Are there dreams you’ve had to bury? Have you expected God to do something and experienced despair when your hopes seem to go up in smoke? Do you believe He is who He says He is, and He can bring the abundant life He has promised – even from a place of despair and death?
This week, as we celebrate the incredible event that changed history and eternity, don’t be too quick to skip from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning. Think of the disciples in their locked room, filled with fear and despair so completely that they had given up on His words to them. What pieces of your own heart have been locked away in fear or despair? Invite Jesus to show up and bring life and hope in those locked places just as He did for His friends so many years ago. He is still the same today as He was when He appeared to them long ago.